tv [untitled] June 24, 2014 6:00am-6:31am PDT
classes, and we had it from -- i believe march until the end of june and we have extended it to the end of july. we also noted that there are challenges in the outlying neighborhoods for people to get taxi pickups. so we have an incentive for every two paratransit wheelchair pickups, the ramp traxi driver gets a free, go to the head of the line pass at the airport. this has a tremendous economic value for our drivers, who can get in and out of the airport fast and they will do the two pickups. that has been working well. let me just give you some numbers here. so from -- we have had these new incentives in place since december of last year, and at this point 122 drivers have earn a total of almost $3500 worth of incentives in that short time. in terms of the credits towards
their medallion down payment, 36 drivers have earned a total of almost $28,000. so that is real value for our drivers. we've given out 270 airport short-passes to 48 drivers. and we have had 36 drivers take advantage of the free ramp taxi training course at a cost of $80 per student. so they saved $80 there. under our old incentive scheme, 173 drivers -- these are ramp taxi drivers -- earn a total of $118,000 worth of incentives and that was from jan, 2011, to november, 2013. so the mta is really putting money into this service. this is an extremely valuable service. the entire taxi industry is important to our paratransit program, and specifically the ramp taxi program as well.
most of our paratransit trips are provided to frail seniors, who are ambulatory and do ride on the sedan. so both sides of the service are really important to us for our ambulatory riders and individuals who use wheelchairs, so it's a very important issue for us. we also separate a -- sent a letter to our ramp taxi customers to encourage them to use the ramp taxi service, now that we have the incentives in place. we really want to push the demand onto the service and to left people know that there have been improvements in the service. those trips are very valuable now and the drivers should want to pick them up and we do have a number of very good wheelchair ramp taxi drivers. so getting the marketing information out to our customers and improving the program for the drivers and we're working on both fronts
there. in addition, i wanted to mention, this is off the tnc topic, but about paratransit and i hope i can take a moment to mention that we do have some changes in our paratransit program and that our largest van provider, mv transportation, had requested to be released from their contract with the paratransit broker. viola and mv met and had a series of discussions and came to an agreement for mv's contract to be terminated at their request, starting december of this year. sfmta has been involved with the subcommittee to look at options given the short time, what should we do? what is the best way to handle the situation given the short turnaround time and given the level of importance of this service?
after numerous internal discussions and working with the small subcommittee, it's been decided that viola transportation, who is currently the paratransit broker will also provide the transportation function during the period of their broker contract. and the broker contract ends june of next year. so about a year from now, and there is an opportunity, it looks likely there may be the ability to extend the short time, six months or a year. so i wanted to inform everybody of that change. we think it's going to be a real improvement and it gives us an opportunity to test a different model in our system. also, to really understand the costs of the service. so i will leave it at that. thank you. >> thank you both very much.
yes, tatiana? >> kate, i just wanted to ask a question. how will that effect the riders long-term? i mean, who have always looked towards mv? >> our riders will have the same, if not better transportation service. we're actually looking for a big improvement in our system and that is our goal. so the service will continue uninterrupted. it's a change on the back-end, but no change for the riders. they will call the same number and request a trip in the same way. so the service should improve. my understanding is that viola is in discussions with the drivers' union at mv and there is excitement for the new management team to come in. so a lot of drivers will likely be the same. we expect those good drivers that are providing good service
will hopefully go over to viola and be under viola management. so we're looking for big improvements. >> thank you. >> co-chair zarda? >> thank you. i actually had a question for miss hayashi. first of all, thank you so much for that comprehensive in-depth, detailed presentation. it covered many points on the topic. and just gleaning from what i could tell from that presentation, it sounds to me as if the setup for the tnc is like uber, almost makes it impossible for them to be able to provide the services. so in regards to what suggestions you may have for the cpuc moving forward, you know, and possibly seeing a way to have both an operation of tncks and taxis or do you see it as a way of different classifications? what
do you see moving forward as suggestions for the cpuc? >> it's extremely difficult, if not impossible to maintain a regulated fleet next to an unregulated fleet and what i say "regulated" i mean in terms of numbers. i mentioned that we maintain a taxi system. we say how much you can charge the passenger. we say how much you can charge the driver. we require all of these bells and whistles that you have to -- and we make those adjustments in order to try to maintain this, like, economic engine that is in the taxi system in balance. and if you add unrestrained competition to that mix, then there is no way that you can maintain an economic balance. and one of the important economic balances that is inherent in what is called the medallion system, meaning the limit on the number of vehicles, is that you make some assessment of the level of
demand, and provide an appropriate supply. so that the drivers who are providing the service can actually make a living. if you divide up the existing demand among too many drivers, then nobody can make a living, and that creates dangerous circumstances. because then people are racing around, competing for fares. i mean we have seen -- there is sort of a philosophical debate amongst by counterparts as to whether an open-system is better? just let everybody be a taxi driver if they want to be a taxi driver and the supply and demand will adjust itself naturally. that was tried in washington, d.c.. i can say that i think it's pretty much regarded by everyone as a service disaster as far as the outcome. and so most cities maintain a medallion system for the reasons that i mentioned. and so what should the cpuc do? as i mentioned, i think that one of the most important
things that we should ask for is local control over some of these operations, most particularly the numbers. in order to maintain control of our streets, what is the supply? what is the demand? how much room on our limited roadway do we have for this particular form of transportation? if you pour too many of these things on the streets, you find all of the bad aspects that we have basis point been trying to manage for to make our transportation system work. you have double-park and more cars on the streets, adding to congestion and you are are slowing down the transit system for everybody on the transit system. so it's just not whether or not taxi drivers are making enough money? although, it's an important consideration and let's not forget that taxi drivers live in our city, too, and they are economic participates --
participants in our city and the consequences of them out of work is important to our city and our regional economy. so it's important to try to maintain this in a way that is sustapable e sustainability for the participants and customers. you want to make sure there is appropriate safety screening of drivers and i do not think that the cpuc's decision to-date has been adequate with driver screening, vehicle screening or insurance. i think the insurance issue continues to be a real problem and if people think it's enough just to have insurance what the app is on, well, think about the surge pricing element of it? if the supply is less than the demand, the price goes up. so if i am a driver, acting as
a logical economical person, i'm going to turn my app off and drive the supply down and when the price goes up, i will race off to get those orders. now you have uninsured vehicled racing around to demand and uncontrolled pricing structures. there are just so many things that are difficult about this particular model. but i do think that if i were to sum it up in a word, it would be "local control." >> thank you. >> councilmember wong. >> hi miss hayashi and thank you for coming today. i have a few questions and the first one is the taxi driver that owns that taxi or medallion, have they rent it out the taxi after their shift?
>> so there is a taxi driver permit which just allows you to drive a taxi. there is a taxi medallion permit, which if we have 6,000 active taxi drivers only about 1700 of them actually have their own medallions, which is the right to operate a taxi vehicle. and yes, that taxi vehicle is -- we're trying to make maximum efficient use out of that vehicle. so it's required to be on the streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. we certainly hope that the medallion holder himself or herself is not driving it all of that time. so by necessity, it is leased out to other drivers, who drive it by the shift and some of that profit goes back to the medallion-holder. >> who screens that driver? >> the sfmta screens that driver and that is what i think is the defining characteristic of our system. and that is it's government
oversight. that is another fundamental problem with the cpuc decision. it requires the tncs to police themselves and really does not get involved. that is why you can't have adequate driver screening under that model, because a private employer has less access to criminal background records then a public agency. so by law, uber or lyft can only see seven years' of a person's criminal history. but because we're a government agency, we can see the entire adult criminal history through a fingerprint-based backup check and that is one of the values that i think is missing from the cpuc decision is government oversight, just basic government oversight and that is true in any regulatory context. i can't imagine a regulatory situation, where you just kind of wave at the regulated and
say everything is fine; right? and that is pretty much the situation that i see the cpuc's decision creating. >> so this is not saying anything against you, but i had mentioned it in past meetings and my daughter took a cab home in the outer sunset, in the evening, and it was really late. and the driver would not let her out of car -- it was a cab driver, and i'm sure she made that complaint, because she was holding her cell phone and she said if you don't let me out of this car right now, i'm going to get you for kidnapping me. >> so again, that is a terrible story and i encourage anybody who hears the sound of my voice right now to use 311 whenever you have a problem. all we need to know is the time, the date and the vehicle number. we don't need the driver's name
or badge number. we don't need to know where you were. we just need the time, the date and the vehicle number and we can find that driver and in most cases we can find the video that was taken and corroborate the story either way. and then we can follow-up with that driver in a really robost, disciplinary process and i can tell you it hasn't always been this way because we have had to build capacity over time and we are caught up with all 311 complaints. if you file a 311 complaint, not only does someone see it, but sees it within a couple of days and each complaint is processed. we may find it's unsubstantiated and that may mean that you didn't give us enough information. if we don't have the date, for example we won't be able to find the driver. that is unsubstantiated and to the driver's protection, there are many people that are kind of mean, frankly and might file a complaint against the driver
for something that might not be a problem. for example, we received a complaint that a driver went into a hotel lobby and helped himself to a free cup of coffee. okay, that is not really a disciplinary issue and, in fact i don't think it's morally wrong. [laughter ] >> so that is why we have a whole category of complaints that are unsubstantiated. when there is a complaint that is substantiated. i have got an entire team of enforcement personnel and i would like them all to stand up and be recognized please. who will touch every single complaint and administer and issue appropriate discipline. [ applause ]. >> that is four of my eight taxi investigators, which is a new civil service class and they go out into the field in the evenings and during the day. they keep the white zones clear in front of the hotels. they engage in undercover operations with the police
department to find cpuc-permitted vehicles that are acting beyond the scope of their permit and they are the ones this who process every single complaint. so as i said, there is maybe 6,000 taxi drivers who work actively in san francisco. that is an estimate for now. of course there are going to be some bad apples in there, but the good news, not only do we have the resources to go after the bad apples, but if the complaint is unsubstantiated, we have the systems in place to protect the driver and due process as opposed to a tnc driver, if their star rating falls below a certain point you are out and i don't how you get back. but we have due process for drivers and we have a very robust process for complaints. again, any problems that you have with taxis we want to hear about it, because we're providing government oversight of the situation in a manner that is fair for everybody.
>> would you be able to provide a phone number up there for something that people can call? or just 311? >> 311, you can always reach us through 311. we can just keep it simple that way. >> okay. my last thing is taxi drivers or taxi service versus tncs. what if your city was in an emergency state, such as muni not working -- sorry. okay? and then muni not working for several days, okay? and people are trying to hail taxis and there weren't enough taxis. >> as we develop the taxi technology, we get increasing capacity to be able to address things like that. in fact, we did address it in the recent
event in which muni wasn't operational. and we now have technology that makes it possible for us to do much better instantaneous communication with taxi drivers and their vehicles. i think that the next step is actually to think about emergency planning, to utilize the taxi fleet in the event of an emergency. like a public emergency. if there was a tsunami, for example, and we wanted to evacuate one part of the city? >> right. >> i think that one of the next steps of planning for our team is to think through how we can effectively use that incredible resource of 1700 vehicles with passenger capacity for four in each vehicle. so that is quite a few people that can you fit into a very nimble form of transportation. >> thank you for answering my questions >> sure. >> i believe is there any
questions from staff? no? then before we go to break, i would like carla johnson -- oh, public comment. i'm sorry. excuse me. bob planthold. >> hello, anyone on the bridge line? >> i'm bob planthold. i wanted to offer an analysis, and then put the burden on you individually as councilmembers. you have heard the indications, the evidence that these tncks, they are not accessible through their communications, their vehicles do not provide universal service. they are public accommodations, but somehow, that has been overlooked by cpuc. they should have been accessible from the beginning.
somehow nobody in this city is able to call attention to that or has mentioned that. the mayor is silent about the lack of accessibility. the city attorney doesn't mention it in interviews, comments about tncs. the president of the board of supervisors says nothing. the two supervisors who are mtc commissioners and ostensibly knowledge about transportation, are silent, the rest of the supervisors are silent. what is evident and obvious is lost on these public officials. a major public interest law firm, disability rights advocate is seeking instances now of people who are denied service. the very fact thater that open in public says there is a problem and yet the mayor is silent and these other officials. now this is listed as an
information item, but you still individually could call and say, what is going on, mr. mayor? why are you silent? the mayor who appointed you ought to be responsive to you and say how come? why not? rather than wait and develop a nicely-worded resolution that takes extra time. you could make a call and send an email and put the mayor on the spot. thank you. >> next i have charles rathbone. >> good afternoon commissioners. my name is charles rathbone and i'm here on behalf of luxor cab company and i want to say to the members of the disabled community thank you for your business. we really need it and we're very happy to have it. in fact, we're honored to serve
the disabled community. luxor has been in business now for 85 years. and you may have heard talk about cab companies are going bankrupt or something, luxor looks forward to being with you for another 85 years and no intention of going away. miss hayashi referred to problem of competition for drivers and for us that is a very, very serious problem. we have -- let me just given an example. an email is circulated this week, that i was privileged to see was not intended for me was between uber and one of its new drivers. that new driver is going to get a guarantied $5,000 for his first month, his first month as an uber driver. how on earth can we compete
with that? a new driver -- we can offer him a decent living, but we cannot guarantee $5,000 in the first month and we can't finance his car either. uber does that and that is what you have when you have over a uber-billion dollars in venture capital just a couple of weeks ago. they can literally throw the money out on the streets. i see the clock ticking, so i will speak quickly and give a word of thanks to sfmta, the program that miss toran oversees has been extremely helpful to us. the incentives for drivers is a big boon and it's very difficult to attract and retain drivers at all and particularly for the ramp taxi program. it's more work and the gas is more expensive and more
training and scheduling difficulties. so it's a bit of a challenge to keep that program going, but miss toran's program has been very helpful in helping us retain and keep drivers. looking at the big-picture, one of the critical things that we need to do is to find a better vehicle. there really isn't an affordable, suitable vehicle for wheelchair-accessible service. we use the converted vans now, and they are really not very good. once you cut the frame of a vehicle, it's never going to be the same. so we look forward to perhaps some help in purchasing the more expensive vehicles that are starting to appear on the market now >> . thank you. >> thank you. >> walter park. >> good afternoon
commissioners, staff. thank you for letting me speak today. i may not get to my remarks. i would like to thank christiane hayashi. i have never met you before and very happy to hear you today, but i heard you talk on the forum and we had a person from the tnc industry who was vague and wondering and unconcerned about the questions being asked and chris came back time after time after time with specifics on the ground knowledge and i had a strong feeling that she represented citizens in san francisco. you knocked my socks off, if i had socks on, sitting at home in bed. [laughter ] and i just wanted to thank you for that and for everything that you have done. i am so sorry to know that you are leaving city service because we need you so desperately. thank you. i did want to say a couple of
things, person no. 3 the person from uber to help us solve these problems. what are we doing talking to ourselves and talking to each other, instead of talking to our private sector partner? that has to happen and it doesn't have to happen just in room 200. it's got to happen in public. i would like to propose that this council adopt a resolution and i was going to give you some items to talk about and i think chris has laid out several things to be in there. who does it go to? clearly your boss, the mayor and the board of supervisors and the california puc and should i just nominate chris for the new president of the cpuc? right now? [laughter ] >> it would be better for the state on so many issues. i don't want to even think about it. and the fundamentals behind this had to do with culture and
economics. but maybe culture first. i am not happy about -- when i hear bill gates for 15 years use the word "innovation" in every single paragraph and every single speech -- maybe it was more than 15 years and utterly drain the meaning from the word, i'm upset, because it has the connotation of creative and incentiveness, but what it means today is the modernization of someone's creativity and inventiveness and it also involves unfortunately the transfer of risk. so much of what is happening is transfer of risks from large corporations -- say they are the small corporations and the large corporations to individuals, whether it's
retirement, education funding or whatever. it's happening here. here we're transferring all of the risks to the drivers. and when we kill a few people, when we injure a lot of people, then the city has to stand up and say we can't quite let you transfer that much risk, because that won't work. so then we come back with a couple of rules and regulations. >> i'm afraid i have to ask you to wrap up. >> self-regulation is an oxymoron. we need a local puc or local mta to regulate these industries, not to allow them to shift cost into the public sector or to private individuals. people with disabilities particularly need equality and the market has never provided equality in the system. you need to make sure that your resolutions demand that people do. and something this else that people with disabilities. >> we appreciate your
comments, but we need to more on. >> expectation and predictability. thank you. >> thank you. is there someone on the bridge line? >> hello? >> no? okay. well, is there any other public comment before i move on? yes? >> hi. good afternoon, councilmembers. i want to really thank christiane hayashi and think it's one of the most comprehensive analyses of the problem and just the whole dynamics of regulation versus non-regulation. one thing to sort of add or what is basically that taxi companies operate under public